Zombie Within – Preview
Follow Genre: Social deduction game
Developer: NewGen Studio
Publisher: Wandering Wizard
Platforms: PC
Tested on: PC

Zombie Within – Preview

Good: Asymmetrical gameplay between zombies and survivors
Bad: Microtransactions in a paid Early Access game!
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(2 votes)
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Rating: 4.5/10 (2 votes cast)

It’s perhaps fitting that there is one enemy archetype that keeps coming back over and over again: the humble zombie. Whether it’s The Last of Us’ Clickers or the harmless shambling horde in Lil’ Guardsman, zombies can be found across genres. Now, they’re popping up in a social deduction game, the aptly titled Zombie Within from NewGen Studio. Currently in Early Access on Steam, Zombie Within pits survivors against zombies in multiplayer mayhem. But does Zombie Within tickle our braaaaaains or is it just a lumbering corpse?

The idea behind Zombie Within is so obvious that we’re surprised that it hasn’t been done in video game form before, at least not to our knowledge. If you’ve seen any zombie movie or show, you’re going to be familiar with the trope of a survivor who has been bitten and is hiding his infection from his companions. Zombie Within takes this idea and pushes it to the next logical step: a social deduction game. In true Among Us style, some of the survivors are actually zombies, known as impostors. It’s up to these players to kill a certain number of NPC civilians, known here as innocents, while the player survivors, or ‘defenders’, are trying to figure out who the impostors are. Up to six players can participate in this asymmetrical game, although in the current Early Access stage, we haven’t been able to consistently find enough players online to enjoy a steady amount of full lobbies. It happens sometimes, but not often enough. Granted, you can play Zombie Within against bots, but half the fun of a game like this is the multiplayer aspect. That’s without even mentioning that single-player mode lacks difficulty levels and the AI players aren’t quite up to snuff.

When playing as an impostor, you’ll have to try and blend in with the survivors as you make your way across the map. Your goal is to find generators and sabotage them. Upon successfully doing this, toxic clouds will appear that will take down any civilian NPCs in the vicinity. Not only will every civilian you kill in this way take you closer to your goal, but you’ll gain experience points and level up as well. Upon leveling up, you’ll unlock perks like expanding the range of toxic clouds or being able to activate zombie mode, which lets you outright kill NPCs without having to resort to the more tedious method of generator sabotage. Of course, you’ll have to time this just right, as you don’t want the defenders to see your true colors for the 10 seconds or so that zombie mode lasts. As a late-game option that can decide between victory or defeat, all bets are off, of course.

Defenders come in two distinct flavors: there are engineers and there are hunters. If you happen to be a defender, your role is assigned randomly. Engineers can repair generators that zombies have sabotaged. While near a recently sabotaged generator, they can also scan the area for signs of recent zombie activity, which may help determine which player was the culprit. However, engineers are less adept at actually killing zombies than hunters are. Hunters can one-shot zombies, as well as lay traps that temporarily stun zombies. Since impostors can’t kill player survivors, Zombie Within becomes a game of cat-and-mouse revolving around sabotaging and repairing generators, with the engineers and hunters trying to kill the zombies before the NPC civilians are slain. Defenders are also able to unlock upgrades, making it progressively easier to sniff out zombies as the round progresses. If the survivor team kills two non-zombie players, however, it’s game over, so you can’t just go killing all willy-nilly.

We should mention that although Zombie Within isn’t a very expensive game, coming in at around $10, there are microtransactions present, which struck us as odd for an Early Access title. Granted, these are cosmetic items from what we could gather, but with no way to earn the skins and guns through gameplay, this does not set a good precedent. The biggest hurdle the game currently faces, however, is a severe lack of active players. For a game like this to thrive, it absolutely needs a decently sized player base, and in a genre where there is so much competition, we can’t see it picking up steam. Perhaps things would have been different if Zombie Within had been a free-to-play title, which would also justify the game’s reliance on cosmetic microtransactions. Not that those microtransactions would have raked in the dough in the first place, probably, because Zombie Within isn’t the most visually impressive game in the first place, and there is very little reason to spend money on outfits and gun skins. We don’t want to harp too much on the game because this is still an Early Access title after all, but in its current state, we can’t see Zombie Within really mark its territory within the social deduction genre. At least there’s still room to grow, we suppose?


As it stands, Zombie Within doesn’t quite live up to its potential. While the idea of zombies infiltrating a group of survivors is great, the gameplay doesn’t offer anything new or particularly innovative. Single-player mode feels like an unnecessary addition, given that the game needs that player-on-player interaction to offer any kind of fun. The lack of active players may be Zombie Within’s final nail in the coffin, and we’re afraid that this one is *actually* dead in the water, rather than undead.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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Zombie Within - Preview, 4.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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